Honestly, there isn’t a great deal to relay about this week’s ride. It was cold, but not too cold. Luc was good, but not spectacular, and I was content to mostly just hack around the arena. But I’m completely okay with that because sometimes that’s all you really feel like doing.
We did work on some leg yields at the walk, which were great, and at the trot, which could use a little more work. We trotted and cantered some poles, and jumped a little x-rail a few times. It was thoroughly enjoyable. I think the best part of the whole ride was how relaxed Luc felt even though we were inside.
Sadly, he’s begun to have ‘issues’ again in the arena. Not like last year where he would bolt, spin and rear (hence why I didn’t start riding until it was nice enough to go outside!). Now it’s more of a tense feeling, and several times when his owner was riding him he’s worked himself into a sweaty, stressed out mess. And the tenseness happens almost every time he’s inside. It doesn’t matter if he’s alone in the arena, or has some friends, or if it’s windy versus being quiet. The trigger for what’s causing it has remained a mystery.
To add to the confusion over what’s going on, he can be perfectly relaxed at the walk and trot, but then get all tense at the canter. That’s what happened to me this week. We managed to kind of work through it, in the sense that he relaxed a little and stopped trying to drop his shoulder severely to the inside when cantering past the scary end, but I was still getting his choppy canter (a big clue he’s tense) instead of his nice soft relaxed one.
I am at a loss for how to correct this. There seems to be no connection between the days he’s worse, other than the fact that he’s inside – which he has been for months, and will continue to be until well into spring once the snow has melted and the ground has dried out. While it’s a significant improvement over last year, it’s still a little frustrating to deal with. More for his regular rider than for me, since she deals with it five rides a week, and I only deal with it once.
Giving him time off doesn’t help, working him more in the arena doesn’t either. We’ve even gone so far as feeding him right next to the scary door, and giving him treats when he’s relaxed at that end to associate it with something positive. Nope, still doesn’t work. At this point, I am strongly beginning to suspect it’s his way of saying he’s bored working inside. Which is just too bad for him since it’s the only place we can safely ride in the winter.
Then again, that might not be it at all given that he does seem genuinely stressed out at times – getting sweaty even when you’re just walking, stress pooping, and getting a little bug eyed. Ahh, it’s all just so confusing. I really wish I spoke horse and could just ask him what the heck is going on.
Until then, we’ll continue to work on the issue, making him work at the scary end, trying to make it a positive experience, and trying to enjoy ride after ride where your horse just doesn’t feel like his normal self. Sigh, can Spring come a little sooner please?